Meet Road Trip: Myrtle Beach Guest Star Kelly Thurman

September 24, 2008


Kelly Thurman has watched every “Road Trip: Myrtle Beach” episode, rarely failing to tell his wife, Nancy, what a great group Mark Bryan, Josh Kelley, Charlie Rymer and Perry Swenson would be to play with.

As Thurman watched Swenson sing “Rocky Top” near the conclusion of one episode, he had no idea how close he was to joining the fun-loving cast on a Myrtle Beach golf trip. Minutes after Swenson serenaded the Crocodile Rocks crowd, the Road Trip: Myrtle Beach Guest Star Giveaway contest was announced and Thurman sprung to action.

The Alpharetta, Ga., native is an accomplished banjo player and as he watched Swenson warble, one thought entered his head – she needs a five-stringer to complement her voice.

“I grabbed the video camera, a club and the banjo and headed to the backyard,” Thurman said of his contest entry plan.

In the time it took to assemble his tools, the idea for the Guest Star Giveaway’s winning video was hatched. Thurman, a former collegiate tennis player at the University of Georgia, delivered a riff on Myrtle Beach, the show’s cast, and most impressively, played Rocky Top – a song that causes the hair on the back of a Georgia Bulldog’s neck to stand on edge.

Thurman, who has played the banjo for 20 years, has a passion for golf and bluegrass music, and his love of good tunes allowed him to emotionally distance himself from a song synonymous with the University of Tennessee.

“It only took 20 minutes and I only did it once,” Thurman said. “I didn’t know if I would win, but I was happy with the way it turned out.”

When Thurman received news that he won the Guest Star Giveaway contest, he jumped for joy. While he hopes to play his banjo alongside Kelley, a rising star, and Bryan, the guitarist for Hootie & The Blowfish, he also hopes to improve his game on his early October trip to the Grand Strand.

Thurman, who has never had a lesson, said listening to Rymer’s tips on the show have shaved six of seven strokes off of his handicap. He came into the year shooting between 88 and 90 and said he was throwing away several strokes a round due to his inability to play off of uneven lies, a problem solved through Rymer’s brief instruction.

Thurman said he regularly shoots 82 or 83 now and has shot in the 70s.

“My friends don’t want me to get any more tips,” he said with a laugh.

Regardless of whether he improves his game, Thurman is looking forward to seeing a different part of the Grand Strand. Road Trip will film its next four episodes October 5-10 on the North Strand, visiting Thistle, Glen Dornoch, Leopard’s Chase and River’s Edge.

“We’ve been coming to Pawleys Island for the last six years,” Thurman said of his personal travels. “It’s amazing you can come down to Pawleys Island and never have an idea what Myrtle Beach looks like. We do the same thing every day: play True Blue, Caledonia, Heritage, eat at Frank’s and do it over again.”

The Road Trip: Myrtle Beach Guest Star Giveaway trip includes a five-night stay on the North Strand, and Thurman can’t wait to get started.